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PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY MATTERS

We get it that you have questions about privacy and confidentiality.  Everyone is concerned about it and we are too. We want to go through the most common concerns that have been brought to our attention by our labor organizations and by employees.

 

Privacy during your Wellness Screening appointment 

This is one of the most crucial issues facing any company that provides health screenings for its employees.

The County’s independent contractor consider every aspect of the Wellness Screening and how to ensure privacy to the upmost degree.  However, by their very design, Wellness Screenings are not intended to replicate a doctor’s office visit.  It’s meant to cost-effectively serve a large number of people in a short period of time, with the average appointment being 20- 30 minutes from beginning to end.

For the most part, Wellness Screenings are done in large conference areas, and usually there is more than one employee in the room at the same time. There are ways to increase privacy, such as using portable screens, and our independent contractor uses them. We find rooms that are large enough so that any conversations you have with the screening counselor are not overheard. Sometimes, we have no choice about the size of a room, so health counselors are instructed to speak in a low voice or point to information instead of saying it out loud. You have the right to ask your health counselor to speak in a lower voice, if you are concerned that others may hear what s/he is saying. If you are bothered by hearing someone else’s information, PLEASE let a staff member know this, so that it can get fixed immediately.

The County’s Wellness Screening vendor posts an electronic copy of its HIPAA policy on the online scheduling website when you make your appointment. It also provides you with a copy of its HIPAA policy when you come to your Wellness Screening appointment. This fully explains how they maintain and safeguard your personal health information.

Confidentiality of Health information – Wellness Screenings and Doctor Appointments

One of the top concerns raised by employees who have never participated in the Wellness Screening is that they are afraid that the County or their Department will get their health results.

Clinic screening companies that collect health information from Wellness Screenings abide by HIPAA regulations in the same way that your doctor’s office does. They have to be vigilant about this, or they will be out of business.   Our independent contractor will not release any information to anyone without your signature.  Period.

When you come for your Wellness Screening appointment, you are given a program disclosure and liability release statement to sign.  It clearly identifies the limited transfer of your health information to other independent contractors for the purpose of medical follow-up, health coaching and wellness education.   These independent contractors are listed on the form and are the only individuals / companies who may receive your information.  Neither the County nor Court, none if its departments nor its employees are listed.  The only information that the County gets, and it is noted in this document, is your name and employee ID number, and that is to ensure that you get credit for your Wellness Screening participation as part of your eligibility for a Wellness Dividend.  The County will notate that you participated in a Wellness Screening on Workday, and you can view this information by logging onto Workday in early August 2017.

Despite all of these protections, it may feel more comfortable for you to see your personal physician or health care provider to complete your Wellness Screening. This option began last year in 2016 and will continue to be available to you in 2017. You will ask your doctor to release your health information to you by completing and signing a special Physician Screening form. Additionally, you will sign a program disclosure and liability release statement that permits exchange of information to a select few independent contractors for the purpose of medical follow-up, health coaching and wellness education (same as what’s done at the Wellness Screenings).  You are responsible for forwarding your completed Physician Screening form and signed program disclosure/liability statement to the County’s independent contractor in charge of the Wellness Screenings.  Again, the County is not involved in this exchange of information. The only information that the County gets from the independent contractor (and it is noted in the form that you sign) is your name and employee identification information, and that is to ensure that you get credit for your Wellness Screening participation as part of your eligibility for a Wellness Dividend. The County will notate that you participated in a Wellness Screening on Workday, and you can view this information by logging onto Workday in early August 2017.

Confidentiality of Health information – Blue Shield and Kaiser Health Assessments

After you complete the online health assessment on the Blue Shield or Kaiser website, your name and employee identification information are sent by your health plan to the County for the sole purpose of documenting your Health Plan participation on Workday as part of your eligibility for a Wellness Dividend.    

Again, any answers to any questions on the health assessments are not shared as they are considered personal health information.  Health Plans and its web partners are strictly prohibited from sharing this information with anyone without your permission.  They have to be vigilant about this, or they lose credibility in the marketplace.

Both Blue Shield and Kaiser have disclosure statements on their website regarding privacy and confidentiality.  Take a moment to review it if you remain concerned.

Leadership Commitments

Presented to Labor Management Benefits Committee on January 21, 2016
Presented to Executive Council on January 25, 2016

Executive leadership

  • “Lead by example” by doing healthy things during the work day;
  • Maintain a competitive benefits package for County employees and their families;
  • Sponsor wellness services, activities and programs that help employees stay healthy and get healthier;
  • Undertake efforts to inform and educate employees on medical consumerism and the value and impact of informed health care decision-making in mitigating health care cost increases;
  • Support organizational efforts to improve workforce health and well-being through local efforts and actions (“Culture of Health”);
  • Collaborate with unions on organizational efforts to improve workforce health and well-being.

Supervisors and Managers

  • “Lead by example” by doing healthy things during the work day; 
  • Support organizational efforts to improve workforce health and well-being through local efforts and actions (“Culture of Health”);
  • Encourage and support employee efforts to stay healthy, including approving time for medical appointments and/or County time to attend County-sponsored wellness screenings, health coaching  and/or flu clinics;
  • Consider the health and wellbeing of staff in sponsored department activities, including meeting stretch breaks and access to healthier food options;
  • Seek a healthy balance about work.  Ensure that all staff  have been offered their work breaks.  Consider all staff requests for tele-work, flex-work and alternate work schedules to the most reasonable extent possible.  Minimize mandatory overtime periods.

Employees

  • Make daily healthy choices that contribute towards ensuring one’s best possible health, well-being and work-life balance;  
  • Maintain an ongoing relationship with a personal physician or health care provider;
  • Stay “current” on all preventive screenings and tests appropriate for age and gender;
  • Become a wiser consumer of health care services;
  • Use protective equipment and skills to protect health and prevent injures;
  • Create a supportive environment for the health and well-being of co-workers.

Unions

  • “Lead by example” by doing healthy things during the work day; 
  • Embrace healthier practices during meetings and other organizational activities, including but not limited to meeting stretch breaks and access to healthier food options;
  • Encourage healthy lifestyle choices and wise use of the health care system as fundamental actions that members can take to minimize annual premium increases in health care costs;
  • Collaborate with Executive Leadership on organizational efforts to improve workforce health and wellbeing;
  • Designate staffing and other in-kind resources to actively support the marketing and communication of sponsored wellness initiatives to members.